Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister, is fighting a two-front political war: The opposition party leader is ahead of her in the polls before the September election, and disgruntled members of her party are plotting to restore former prime minister Kevin Rudd— the man she ousted 21/2 years ago — to power. Gillard sat down this past week in Sydney with Washington Post senior associate editor Lally Weymouth and discussed her opponents, her relationship with Obama and whether Australians or Americans are more judgmental. Excerpts:
You face an election in September. You are trailing in the polls, as is your party. What is your view of the situation?
We’ve got a big fight on our hands and a lot of hard work to do. We’ve been in this period of hyper-partisanship, replicating some of the cycles of American politics. We [the Labor Party] emerged from the 2010 election with a minority Parliament, which is very unusual in Australia. The Republican equivalents — misleadingly called “Liberals” — deliberately embarked post the 2010 election on a sharply partisan campaign. Their aim was to force the government back to an election quickly.